Saturday, July 28, 2007

Troubled Time for the Space Community

The last couple of days brought several pieces of bad news for the space community.

The reports of astronauts departing drunk on space missions are certainly not acceptable, but so far there is still too little information to know what actually occurred and whether these were two isolated incidents or part of a more widespread pattern.

The report of the deliberate sabotage of equipment bound for the International Space Station (ISS) is certainly disturbing. While the identities or motives are not yet known (at least publicly), this incident will certainly call attention to the need for security in the whole process of preparing systems for spaceflight.

Of course, the most tragic and heartbreaking development is the explosion at a Scaled Composites plant in Mojave, CA that killed three workers who were testing a propellant flow system for SpaceShipTwo, the passenger carrying suborbital spacecraft being built for Virgin Galactic. May the Lord grant mercy on those who have died, healing to the injured, and comfort to their loved ones.

The Space Frontier Foundation issued a statement reminding the public that opening the frontier always involves risk and that this tragedy will be overcome. (Not yet up on the Foundation's web site, but currently posted here at HobbySpace.)
"We are reaching for the stars, and it is not easy. Accidents happen. Good people die. And we move on. We move on to reach the goal they died for, because to do less would be to dishonor them and their sacrifice, concluded Tumlinson. "Tonight, in dark skies above Mojave, there are three new stars. Let us wipe our tears, pick up our wrenches and tools and get back to work, and now and then as we move ahead in this quest, look up to them and smile - as they are smiling at us."

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